Thursday, November 29, 2012

The San Diego Slayer

In August 1988, authorities from Washington and San Diego issued an announcement that at least ten unsolved murders, logged since June of 1985, were "definitely" linked with other homicides committed near Seattle and Tacoma by the elusive "Green River Killer." One detective referred to the connection as "common knowledge," and some investigators placed the body-count a good deal higher. Lt. Bill Baxter, head of the San Diego Sheriff's Homicide Department, declared that at least ten - and no more than twelve women had been murdered by one man over the past three years. Detective Tom Streed, leading the investigation, was inclined to think the killer's death toll might have reached eighteen. Whatever their opinion, all concerned agreed upon ten victims in the case. The first to die had been 22-year-old Donna Gentile, last seen alive on June 22, 1985. Her naked, strangled body was recovered three days later, in the neighborhood of Mount Laguna, rocks and gravel packed inside her mouth and throat. The second victim was a young "Jane Doe," her body badly decomposed when hikers found it near a rural creek, head lodged beneath a tree limb, on July 22, 1986. Nearby, authorities found clothing and a wedding ring believed to be the victim's, but the evidence has not provided any clue to her identity. Theresa Brewer, 26 years old, was next to face the killer's wrath. Bound in a fetal position and "probably strangled," her body was found on August 3, 1986, identified three days later from a comparison of dental records . On April 23, 1987, a group of illegal immigrants discovered the nude, decomposing remains of Rosmarie Ritter, age 29. Despite a ruling of death due to methamphetamine poisoning , she is listed as one of the murderer's "definite" victims. Two months later, on June 22, 32-year-old Anna Varela was found in Pine Valley, by joggers who nearly stumbled over her naked, strangled corpse. Sally Moorman-Field, a 19-year-old prostitute and drug abuser, joined the list on September 20, 1987, stripped and strangled prior to her discovery by bicyclists. The cause of death was undetermined five days later, when the decomposed remains of Sara Gedalecia, a 36-year-old transient, were discovered at Alpine. Likewise, on October 19, the authorities could list no cause of death for 24-year-old Diana Moffitt, but dismemberment of her skeleton placed her on the victims list. Another "Jane Doe" victim, found at Rancho Bernardo on April 13, 1988, had been dead for a week when her body was discovered, the cause of death once again undetermined. Melissa Sandoval, a 20-year-old junkie prostitute, was last seen alive on May 21, climbing into the car of an unidentified "trick." Her strangled body was recovered eight days later, within thirty yards of the previous dump site at Rancho Bernardo. At this writing, police appear no closer to solution of the homicides in Washington or San Diego County. If their statements on a link between the crimes are accurate, the nomadic "Green River" killer may hold a new record for American serial murders, with a minimum toll of 56 known victims

(article from Oct. 8, 1988)

 (AP) _ Wendy Lee Coffield's strangled body was found dumped in the Green River south of Seattle in 1982. This year, the scattered remains of Peri Suzette Farmer were found in rural San Diego County.
Some 1,700 miles and six years separates the slayings, but task forces in Washington and California are trying to determine whether an elusive murderer's path can be traced between them - a path marked by up to 56 other deaths and disappearances.
Coffield, 16, was the first victim linked to the so-called Green River serial killer, who is officially blamed for the murders of 40 women in Washington and Oregon.
On Sept. 27, a San Diego County Sheriff's Department spokesperson said the department had identified Farmer, 22, and that her death was being investigated by a 10-member task force formed to investigate the killings and any possible link to the Green River case.
Police blame the disappearances of eight others in Washington and Oregon on the same killer, who preyed mostly on prostitutes and transients until the slayings appeared to end in March 1984.
The San Diego task force is looking into the deaths of women, dating back to June 1985, whose bodies were dumped throughout the county and whose murders seem to fit the pattern of the Green River killings.
Lt. Bill Baxter, head of the San Diego Sheriff's Department homicide unit, has said up to a dozen cases may be related.
''It's a possibility,'' Baxter said this summer. ''I wouldn't say it's remote. But it hasn't risen to a conclusive statement that there's a linkage.''
''The lead detectives in this case believe the Green River killer is responsible for some of the killings in San Diego,'' a Green River Task Force detective told The San Diego Union newspaper in August.
San Diego sheriff's spokeswoman Sgt. Liz Foster said two men arrested in connection with attacks on prostitutes are being investigated.
No one contacted Saturday at either the sheriff's office or the police department knew about the status of the investigation.
Similarities exist among the cases:
-Most victims were strangled, had backgrounds in prostitution or drug use and were transients.
-Most of the Seattle victims were found near an area called Pacific Highway South, which is dotted with motels and bars popular with prostitutes. Most of the San Diego victims were found near or along El Cajon Boulevard, an area much like the Seattle strip.
-In Seattle, the killer dumped a number of his victims in wooded areas 30 to 40 miles from the city. In San Diego, many of the bodies were left on secondary roads within 75 miles of the city.
-The Green River series appears to have ended in 1984, after police began heavy enforcement efforts against men patronizing prostitutes. The San Diego series began in 1985.
Self-described streetwalkers on El Cajon Boulevard say they are aware of the killings.
''The police let us know how many girls are missing or if one is found,'' said one woman, who identified herself as Christy, 18, from Washington, D.C.
She said the police also have warned prostitutes to be careful of whom they solicit for business. ''The fear's there,'' she added.
In Seattle, it wasn't until two years after Coffield's body was found, and many killings later, that a task force was formed.
King County Police Capt. Bob Evans, head of the Green River Task Force, believes a more concerted effort in the beginning could have ended the Seattle spree.
''If we knew back in '82-'83 what we know now, then all of these killings wouldn't have happened,'' he said.

(article from the NY Times, Sept 22, 1990)

Five years after a serial killer, or killers, began attacking prostitutes and other young women here, the San Diego police are still searching for suspects and a special task force has begun investigating the investigation itself.
The killings began in June 1985 with the slaying of Donna Gentile, a 22-year-old prostitute whose battered body was found in a remote part of San Diego with small stones and gravel stuffed in her mouth. Since then there have been 42 other victims.
The investigation intensified this month after a grand jury report harshly criticized the police department's conduct in investigating a ring of high-priced call girls in 1987. Although the grand jury's investigation did not focus on the series of killings here, it raised several questions about police misconduct, concluding among other things that some San Diego officers had hired prostitutes.
As a result, officials have called in outside experts to help with the inquiry into the 43 deaths and into the actions of the police.
'We Want a Solution'
''Questions have been unanswered for much too long,'' Mayor Maureen O'Connor said in an interview. ''All of us, the Chief, City Manager and Council, are very frustrated. We want a solution.''
Although the grand jury could not find enough evidence to warrant criminal charges, its criticism of the police department has led to heightened scrutiny of the department and speculation that the conduct that tainted the call-girl operation may also have harmed the investigation into the killings.
''Something serious may be awry in the police department,'' The San Diego Union said in an editorial last month. ''But only a thorough investigation will confirm whether the suspicions are founded or are just sensational rumors.''
The expansion of the police task force brings in officials from the district attorney's office and the office of the State Attorney General. One unit of the enlarged force will look into the multiple deaths and the possibility that not one but several serial killers have been at work here.
Focus on First Victim
''There appears to be several groupings of cases, and that would lend itself to there being two or three or maybe four people doing a number of them,'' said Bonnie Dumanis, a deputy district attorney who is the task force spokeswoman.
A second unit will focus on the death of Miss Gentile, believed to have been a police informer who was also known to have been involved socially with police officers. Shortly before her death, she testified at Civil Service Commission hearings about her relationships with two police officers, one of whom was later dismissed and the other demoted.
Before she was killed, Miss Gentile gave her lawyer a videotape that spoke of her fears, saying, ''I feel someone in a uniform with a badge can still be a serious criminal.''
The lawyer, Doug Holbrook, told The Union, ''Two things bothered her: that a police officer might have somebody harm her,'' or that ''someone she might have turned in would get her.''
Stones Seen as a Signal
Local news reports have speculated that the stones and gravel found stuffed in her mouth could have been a signal that she was killed because she had spoken too much.
The third branch of the task force, headed by a deputy attorney general, will pursue allegations of police misconduct, including, in the words of the chief deputy district attorney, Brian Michaels, ''the possibility that one or more police officers might be involved in one or more of the murders.''
Ms. Dumanis said, ''Any policeman who had an association with a prostitute needs to be looked at.''

Movie Poster of the Week: Don't Go In The House (1979)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Entombed - To Ride, Shoot Straight and Speak the Truth (1997)

Not sure why everyone pisses and moans about this album all the while praising 'Wolverine Blues' as the be all end all of Entombed's death -n- roll turnover. Sure, I mean, if you didn't have a taste for this sort of thing to begin with, than I can totally understand, but I'm perplexed as to what the big difference is in both albums. For one, 'TRSSASTT' is the very last album by Entombed to feature the notorious "chainsaw" guitar sound that they themselves created so long ago under the Nihilist moniker. It also features the same style of balls out, death drenched classic rock that the band had introduced on the 'Hollowman' ep. Now if you're crying because Entombed abandoned the full on death metal sound of Left Hand Path and Clandestine, then sure, that makes plenty of sense, but to dance a festive jig and howl praises to the sky over Wolverine Blues, only to cop out like a limp dick over this album makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. WB and TRSSASTT are stylistically identical. Every ounce of beer soaked aggression that made Wolverine Blues such a behemoth to behold has been seamlessly carried over onto this album. Each song a one hitter quitter.

It's funny because Entombed does a better job at emulating  the classic rock of the 70's than most bands who dedicate themselves to wholly copycatting that style, originality be damned. The infamous 'Sunlight' sound coating each riff with a drunken rage that would make a berserker cringe in fear.

This album marks an end to an era. Obviously, the album after this is where it all began to unravel for the band as apparently, the band were transfixed by the sounds of Creed and Candlebox and felt the need to give their own take on that style of music. Of course we've all the praises of how the band "returned to their roots" starting with 'Uprising' and culminating with 'Morning Star', but to me that's a huge pile of misinformed bullshit. Entombed have never recovered, despite the fact that I actually don't mind, and to some extent even enjoy some of the albums they've released since TRSSASTT, but the fact of the matter is that their death metal days vanished after the release of Clandestine and the mighty 'Skogsberg/Kuzner' sound was cast aside for good after the release of this album. Bottom line.

Do yourself a favor and pick this up and give it an honest shot. Fuck the naysayers. This is a full on Entombed album in the classic sense and they haven't sounded this damn good since.

Pig Destroyer - Prowler in the Yard (2001)

This was the first time I ever thought to myself, "holy shit, this sounds like Slayer". Obviously Pig Destroyer do not really "sound" like Slayer, but there are definitely, without an ioda of a doubt, moments throughout this album where the guitar riffs conjure the same feeling I had decades ago when I first heard Reign in Blood. No shit. I understand that most people, including the band themselves, equate Pig Destroyer's music with grindcore, and that's all well and good. I get the estimate, but, dare I say that if you were to weed away much of the blasting here you'd have a straight up thrash metal album.

The vocals took some getting used to as I'm not particularly fond of the screaming bitch variety. After a while I chose to ignore them as best as I could as I was compelled to see my way through the labyrinthine onslaught of riffs, blasts and drum rolls. There are singular moments where the vocalist emits a rather triumphant sounding roar and I thought, "well hey now". Unfortunately, though, this is one of those guys who is generally compelled to scream over just about every conceivable rhythmic fluctuation from start to finish, thus making the enjoyment of the positive aspects of this album a chore to accomplish.

The drummer is a joy beyond measure as I can actually hear him fucking up from time to time! Imagine that. Not since Sepultura's 'Morbid Visions' have I heard a drummer skip a beat or throw in the unintentional triplet whilst galloping along in a frenzy. That's not to say that this guy sucks because, frankly, I was blown away with the lot of his accomplishments on this album. The fact that he fucks up ever so slightly now and again makes it seem as though the band recorded this album in one take, lending it a sort of "live" quality. Believe me, this is a grand endeavor in comparison to the clinical and robotic approach most death and grind bands generally favor these days.

I know that these days, over a decade after this album was released, it's sort of the "in" thing now amongst wannabe "old school death metallers" to diss and shit all over Pig Destroyer. I'm not sure how much of it has to do with the fact that the band themselves look like a squadron of chumps, but I assure you, there is a huge difference between them and your typical "core" band. As I said earlier, take away the blasts and what you have here is a bonafide thrash band, one who has a better grasp of things than most of the fags that have been emulating that style for the last few years.

Cathedral - Endtyme (2001)

While certainly no "return" to the days when LD and the gang wandered aimlessly through the Forest of Equilibrium, Endtyme is actually a pretty decent album in its own right.

Once I got over the fact that, no, this is not going to be a return to the band's original incarnation, I had actually begun to enjoy the album for what it's worth. A large quantity of this album is as Sabbath soaked as the band has ever sounded before or after, hell, even more so. A lot of folks had made mention at the time of how heavy this album was and how it reminded them of FOE. I don't see the FOE comparison whatsoever, but the guitar tone on this album is probably the heaviest it's been since The Ethereal Mirror, which, despite the goof and the glam, was actually heavy in it's own right. The production is a Billy Anderson job, who I'm not terribly fond of. I don't mind an edge in regards to rawness but a little too much can sound just as contrived as any one of these mindlessly overproduced, assembly wrought monstrosities of the past decade or so. I will say, that well after the first chords are struck, my displeasure begins to fade and all that is left is the music itself.

Dorrian sounds a wee bit more "restrained" than usual, which is a good thing as I'm not particularly fond of his mad rantings on previous albums. The one flaw I've noticed throughout the duration of this album is that Gary Jennings seems to have forgotten many of the subtle tricks and nuances that made Forest of Equilibrium such an enduring treasure to behold. Many of the slower sections on this album sound like some sort of bootleg Cathedral fumbling around in a dark room. While I never thought I'd say this about an alleged "doom" band, I find the more "rockin'" and upbeat material on this album to be where it's at. Credit is surely given to the band for at least attempting to, once again slow things down a bit, but at this point in the game ,  I'm fairly convinced that the band is way out of touch with and rather indifferent to their 1991 state of mind.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Desolate - Sanity Obliterated (2012)

Absolutely devastating death metal from New England!

Desolate were one of many burgeoning death metal bands from the New England area during the early 90's. They went on to release two demos for Wild Rags and then up and disappeared. Two members went on to form the equally crushing Warhorse (Ma) while drummer Eric Roy continued to sonically devastate senses with fellow Massachusetts terrorists, Scattered Remnants.

Sanity Obliterated is a compilation featuring the band's two demos and two unreleased tracks that were originally intended to be released as part of a split ep with Delusion (Ma).

If you didn't know any better, the material here could easily be mistaken for some overlooked band from Sweden during that country's early 90's heyday. The guitar sound here is absolutely crushing and there are plenty of slowed down, doomy sections to paint a wintry atmosphere all around you as your jaw drops and you begin to drool at just how awe-inspiring the heaviness of this band actually is. The demo material sounds just as heavy now as it did almost 20 years ago and the two remaining tracks make me salivate at the thought of what could have been had the band remained and continued to dish out death/doom of this quality. There's no doubt in my mind that if Desolate were around today they'd be giving the likes of Disma, Incantation and others of their ilk a serious run for their pesos.

It's a damn fucking shame that Desolate remain as obscure as they ever were. I'd put any one of their demos up against the lot of the OSDM craze that is currently keeping the masses enthralled within its reign of retardation. Instead of searching out the latest band of merry dolts emulating the icons of the past, you should be unearthing this forgotten masterpiece and allowing it to smash your head wide open.

Krisiun - Conquerors of Armageddon (2000)

Absolutely fucking boring shit right here, folks. People rave about "how fast" this band is. Huh??!! Aside from the fact that the drummer can't really do anything beyond "attempt" a blast beat, his shit really isn't even that fast. His approach is the musical equivalent of one of those tiny little piece of shit spic dogs furiously trying to hump the leg of an elephant. The shit just don't work. This guy makes the clown from Cannibal Corpse sound like a fucking maestro.

Then we have the absolutely lame fucking guitar riffs coupled with what some consider to be decent leads. Decent, until you realize that the dude is doing the same shit on every song. Leads, riffs, everything, the same shit. I can't believe these guys have somehow managed to release the same exact album over and over again throughout the years and still remain signed to Century Media. Someone is asleep at the fucking wheel over at the CM camp.

The vocals are "ok", somewhat reminding me of Deicide sans the demonic midget perched on Glen Benton's shoulder, screaming at everyone.

The funniest thing about this album is that it was produced by none other than Erik Rutan, whose own band consistently sounds like shit with each release, whereas the production here is the only redeeming value to be found. I can't say that I understand exactly how the fuck that works out, but whatever. I couldn't give a fuck less about either band.

This band is Lame (notice the capital 'L'). Sure, I've heard worse, but that doesn't mean that these guys are all of a sudden cool as a result.

Incantation - Diabolical Conquest (1998)

Musically, this is right on par with the band's material leading up until this point. There is a lot of diversity in regards to tempo shifts and picking technique, be it of the galloping variety, "blackened" tremolo style or just plain all out doomy dirge-fests. This album never gets boring in that sense. There is a healthy quantity of everything here to dig in and enjoy. My main (and in all likelihood, only) problem with this album is the vocals of Daniel Corchado. I understand well enough that there are plenty of folks out there who prefer the faggy rasp of black metal style vocals and so upon hearing this album were tickled pink that Incantation chose to go this route. I also noticed that there are a lot of vocal nods to the gay pirate of Autopsy himself, Chris Reifert, on this album. Being that I never enjoyed that dude's vocal style, I was perplexed and rather mortified upon hearing the sounds being gushed fourth from out of Danny C's cephalic cunt hole. I kept wondering to myself "what the fuck were they thinking??!!"

It's really a fucking shame as I could only imagine how awesome this album would've been had Pillard or some similar sounding entity handled the mic. Instead, some beaner with a wretched fag rasp proceeded to shit all over an otherwise decent sounding album. Great job Incant.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Incantation - The Forsaken Mourning of Angelic Anguish (1997)

This is pretty much the last Incantation release that I truly give a fuck about. Sure, 'Diabolical Conquest' had some decent tunes (though why the band chose to replace the low end ungodliness of Pillard with Danny Corchado's throat-fucked rasp is way the fuck beyond me) and I'll even go as far to say that 'Blasphemy' is something of an underrated classic, but this was the last time I felt that Incantation was flat out perfecto-fucking-mundo. Some of the band's most evil sounding shit to date is right here, buckaroo. Forget all the shit that ol' Johnny Mac & Cheese himself has been vocalizing over, this is the band's pinnacle achievement right here. Sure, it's only an 'ep', but I'll put this release up against anything the band has shat fourth since!

Surprisingly enough, TFMOAA showcases what is easily Craig Pillard's weakest vocal performance to date. Don't get me wrong, they're not outright faggy sounding by any stretch and I'll take Craig on a bad day over most others, but they do sound ever so slightly tired and uninspired.

TFMOAA marked the first recording to feature now longtime Incant skin master, Kyle Severn, and almost solely for his performance on this ep alone do I rank him as one of my top 5 all time favorite drummers.

John McEntee's riffary here is among his best and the production of Bill Korecky is spot fucking on, bringing out the band's true essence and flawless knack for conjuring fourth negative vibes.

The only real complaint I have here is the inclusion of the ultra-lame cover of Death's 'Scream Bloody Gore'. As much as I prefer Pillard's cavernous style over Chucks's, it's just downright fucking miserable to endure his rendition of this death metal classic. The end result, while not horrible in any significant way, just sounds rather gratuitous and beat and I would have much rather have had the band opt to include another original.

Again, while I do like Diabolical Conquest and Blasphemy, for me, this is the last of the truly essential Incantation releases.

Mortician - Mortal Massacre (1991)

I've always found it to be painfully tragic that the intros on any one Mortician release are usually, at the very least, double the length of the song itself. Of course, it doesn't help that the band persists on stuffing every last bit of useless dialogue into the equation rather than singling out and focusing on the "punchline" and then... ZAP! Instead, you're "treated" to having endure 5 casual minutes of breathing, footsteps, screaming, bad
acting and a wide array of sound effects until, finally, the band belts out a cool 52 second track for your listening displeasure.

Actually, aside from the endless amount of gratuitous intros, I quite like Mortician, though I've learned through the years that I can only tolerate them in extremely small doses, which is probably why I tend to favor their ep's over their full length endeavors, not to mention that the band's stronger material has almost predictably been released in 7" format. It seems like the band tends to drop the ball when coming up with an albums worth of material. That's not to say that there aren't prized gems to be found on any one of their LP's, but there usually tends to be a great deal of monotony as well, despite the speedy pace.

The fact that Mortician has been employing the services of a drum machine for the last 20 years hasn't bothered me in the slightest bit (though the band did have an actual drummer within their ranks on this 'ep' as well as their earlier material). I'm also not one of those people who cries and makes a big deal about bands who use triggers. There are far worse offenses committed in the metal world. The number one draw for me when it comes to Mortician is the band's ridiculously heavy sound. I remember thinking how much of an improvement 'Mortal Massacre' was over the 'Brutally Mutilated' ep, not to mention the fact that Will Rahmer's vocals took a turn for the ungodly the second time around.

Where Mortician truly succeeds is when they drop the tempo and proceed to slowly chug your ass to death. I mean, seriously, when you have a guitar sound that fucking heavy, you owe it to the listener to pummel them into a hot red sticky mush with a generous assault of down picked mutes embellished by an inhumanly low and ghoulish vocal croak that lasts the duration.

I believe Mortician would be taken a bit more seriously if they would cut out 3/4's of the intro's and perhaps weed out a bit of their weaker fare. When it comes to heaviness and primal brutality, I'd much rather listen to Mortician than any one of the 90,000,00 'D' bands that hail from Texas and California, but unfortunately, when I am actually in the mood for this style of music, I don't want to sit through 5-10 minutes of some low budget intro to finally get the ball rolling. It's like watching a program on one of those channels that persist on shoving a commercial down your throat every 5 minutes.

Movie Poster of the Week: Dawn of the Dead (1978)

Incantation - Vanquish in Vengeance (2012)

Let's get this out of the way right off the bat... Incantation, by and large, have been dead to me pretty much since good ol' Johnny Mac & Cheese decided to handle mic duties. I'm not sure if this has anything to do with being unable to competently handle two things at once, but I noticed that once JM decided to become Incant's "official" MC, the goings-on within the riff department became decidedly generic, not to mention that, despite the universal praise ol' chappy has received for a job well done, to mine ears (and apparently mine alone) Johnny boy's vocals sound laughably inept and rather painful to endure, and whereas the "low-ended" growls sound like some pussy chumpskate attempting to mimic his betters, the occasional high-end rasps that ol' Mac & Cheese emits from time to time are truly and absolutely embarrassing to behold. Normally I would laugh my ass off at such an atrociously lame attempt at death metal vocals, but because Incantation was at one point a band that I held in the highest regard, all I can do is cringe in horror.

With that aside, let us proceed onward...

Musically, this isn't bad. There are are some genuinely "evil" riffs scattered throughout and it's good to see that John & co. still comprehend the art of tempo changes and structure overall. There is a wealth of slow material on here ranging from mid-paced battery to all out doom, all the while dishing out plenty of skank and blast beats for those in the audience who suffer from ADD. The production is "ok". I would much rather have heard the band revisit the cavernous rumblings of their glory days, but apparently as gray hair and receding hair lines come to claim their own, they also take with them the weight of one's sound. Fuck it. Since Incant's pretty much employed this limp-wristed technique for over a decade now, I know better than to hold my breath. Long gone is the gargantuan and monolithic sound of albums such as 'Onward to Golgotha' and 'Mortal Throne of Nazarene'.

Of course, for all the "decent" shit that pops up on this album, there are still plenty of riffs that sound like they were written by a two year old with Down's Syndrome. The kind of remedial shit that someone comes up with during their first week of playing guitar. Allen West would be proud. Believe me, I understand that not everything has to fly by at mach 10, in fact, I have hardly a semblance of tolerance for mindless technicality, but come the fuck on, try and at least be interesting.

Already the masses are gathering to masturbate Johnny and the boys for yet another "bullseye" performance, and I'm sure anyone who happens to stumble upon this review will end up with their hiney in an uproar as a result. Oh fucking well. As I mentioned earlier, Incant's pretty much been a dead issue since after the release of their wildly underrated 'Blasphemy' LP. This certainly isn't the weakest or the worst of their releases, but it is a far cry from the shit that they were spewing out during the glory years. Oh well, I'm sure all of the trendy "OSDM Facebook hipsters" will be jumping for joy when this is released next week (given that they haven't already downloaded the shit out of it by then).

Encoffination - O'Hell, Shine in Thy Whited Sepulchres (2011)

Of the 9,000,000 bands that are tucked within the stinking and rotted crevice that lies betwixt Incantation's grizzled nutsack and tampered with arse, Encoffination are probably the band that comes the closest to capturing the essence of Incant's earlier material. With the low, mountainous yet almost whispery vocal rumblings, the veritable minefield of pinch harmonics and the mandatory cavernous gloom conjured fourth by the guitars, Encoffination certainly have the right idea. The problem is that things tend to meander a bit, and I don't mean that they simply "chill on the E", but there are wide chasms of uninteresting moments, despite the band possessing the necessary tools to chisel out a monolith to end them all. Somehow, Encoffination come up short in the long run.

This is not to say that Encoffination are a lost cause as the band does manage to get a lot right despite their flaws. The tuning and guitar sound overall is impeccable. This is the kind of shit you'd imagine accompanying your thoughts as you cross the River Styx on your way to Medusa's isle. The key phrase here is 'cavernous-fucking-gloom' folks, and Encoffination has quite the impressive grasp on this concept. There are plentiful amounts of crawling doom riffs, drudged through the depths of the river of death and vocalist Justin Stubbs emits a spectral croak to rival those of Craig Pillard and Will Rahmer combined. Again, the problem with Encoffination is that the "miss" moments unfortunately outweigh the hits and I ultimately find myself reaching for something less yawn inducing.

It's actually all a bit disheartening to me as "death/doom" is a style of music very dear to my heart, yet so few truly grasp it's essence. It's obvious that Encoffination do, in fact, have a thorough understanding of what it is that they've involved themselves in. If these guys would take a moment before releasing 52 ep's, 7"s, full length albums and what have you, and actually spent a moment "crafting" instead of mindlessly releasing shit for the sake of being prolific, I'm sure the band could come up with something worthwhile, and I mean that sincerely as I can plainly see that they are in possession of all the proper ingredients. Only time will tell.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Napalm Death - Fear, Emptiness, Despair (1994)

I know all the blast fags of the world had their hineys in an uproar when this came out, but being that I've, for the most part, considered blast beating to be an endeavor enjoyed and obsessed over by the retarded, it didn't bother me much that ND ever so slightly toned the pace this time around. I've always been in search of heavier shit and there was plenty to be found here.

I can only assume that after 4 albums that featured an incessant amount of blast beating, ND decided it was time to explore other avenues of extremity wrought by a slower pace. Fine by me. Fear, Emptiness, Despair features quite a few of what I consider to be ND's best songs including 'Hung', 'State of Emergency' and 'Armageddon X 7'.

The guitar team of Jesse Pintado and Mitch Harris has always been one of my favorites as they were never dry on ideas and always managed to come up with some of the more kookier riffage in death metal. I can say with confidence that FED is the pinnacle of the duo's bizzaro ideas. There's even an ever so slight industrial feel throughout the aural festivities on display which serves to add yet another layer of heaviness atop an already colossal piece of work. The greater portion of this album is on the slower to mid-paced side of the fence with an occasional blast thrown in to accentuate certain riffs and arrangements. Barney sounds particularly bestial on this album as he bellows and shouts in an almost off key approach, a style that he had begun to employ on 'Utopia Banished'.

If I had to say, the weakest link here would be drummer Danny Herrera, who, while certainly not doing a horrible job by any means, just doesn't really do anything terribly interesting. Mick Harris he is not, and I'm also not a big fan of the drum sound on this record. Aside from from that minor gripe, this is probably the last "extreme" album the band released until their much heralded "return to form", although for my money, 'Inside the Torn Apart' could have easily passed as the sequel to this album as the two have much in common. They're both innovative, somewhat progressive and industrial tinged but without sacrificing any of the intensity the band had initially based their career around.

This is definitely more death metal than grind, a fact made obvious by the scarce use of blast beats, though it could be reasonably argued that the ND officially became a death metal band with the release of 1990's 'Harmony Corruption'. I for one embraced the band's crossover as I was beginning to get bored by their earlier approach. Sure, 'Scum' knocked my socks off like everyone else at the time of its release and 'From Enslavement to Obliteration' was basically a tighter version of that album, but after the initial shock began to wear off, I had quickly grew tired of the constant blasting/haggard vocal approach and was pleasantly blown away when I heard what the new line-up had to offer. It would be nice to see ND revisit the style that they had begun to mine on this album, but then again, they'd probably manage to somehow drop the ball as most bands do when they try and recapture their glory days. I have to give mention to Meathook Seed's 'Embedded' album as that was a side project of Napalm guitarist Mick Harris and it is very similar in sound what with the bizarre rhythmic tendencies and industrial flavor.

Oldboy (2003)

I usually don’t agree with “best movie” lists but any list that features Park Chan-wook I will pay attention to. Oldboy is one of the few movies that is actually deserving of its hype.

Oldboy is the second part of what is known as the “Vengeance Trilogy” (featuring Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, and Sympathy for Lady Vengeance) and is probably the best known of the three films and probably the best known Park film in general. It tells the story of Oh Dae-Su, a man who has been released after being imprisoned for 15 years (in what looks like a hotel room) without knowing why. He encounters a young lady at a seafood restaurant and together they try to uncover who Dae-Su’s captors are and the reason behind his imprisonment.

The beauty of Oldboy is in Park’s camerawork and in Choi Min-sik’s portrayal of Oh Dae-su, a sympathetic and flawed man trying to work his way out of a dark and confusing situation. The fight scene in the hallway is a truly remarkable piece of cinema, being filmed in one take and with Choi really putting himself out there physically. Yu Ji-tae also does an excellent job of playing the sadistic and baby-faced villain Woo-jin.

The characters are fully fleshed out, the cinematography gorgeous, and the soundtrack a beautiful mix of soft classical themes. While this may not be my favorite of Park’s films (Lady Vengeance holds that spot), Oldboy is a beautiful and worthy film that should be viewed by anyone who wants to see how a well-made movie is done.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Napalm Death - Words from the Exit Wound (1998)

Not quite sure what the fuck ND were thinking on this one. They had just begun to recover from the commercial misstep of Diatribes with '97's overlooked gem, Inside the Torn Apart, and then for some reason  said "fuck it" and decided to venture into left field with this release. As bizarre an entity as this release was (and is), it's not even really that much of an oddity in terms of experimentation, although the band had begun to infuse into its aural arsenal such a sterile tone that it makes me wonder if they were all high on rubber cement during the recording of this album.

In a way, this album is sort of the antithesis of Diatribes. While that album was an obvious attempt to commercialize the band's sound with a more compressed accessibility, this album is more "out there" and even, dare I say, "progressive" sounding at times. While this is not a bad thing, ND largely manages to fumble the ball, and this is in no small part due to the sterility of the guitar sound and production overall. Even the riffing sounds uninspired here, which is really saying something considering that even on their more commercial sounding efforts, the ND writing squad has always had a knack for creativity.

Personally, I wasn't bowled over by the band's alleged "return to form" starting with 2000's 'Enemy of the Music Business', mainly because of the oddly sterile guitar sound that the band had carried over with them from this release. Throwing more blasts over that shitty sound and halfhearted riff gymnastics did little to convince me that the band were indeed back on track.

I definitely do not see this album as being some kind of attempt at selling out. For all intents and purposes, the aggression is still there even though this is a far cry from what the band was doing on 'Utopia Banished' and even farther than the Dorrian/Steer era.

This album also marks the last time the band would use that horrendously gay "mid-era" logo that they had begun sporting back in '94.

Teeth of Lions Rule the Divine - Rampton (2002)

After all of the "super sonic martian disco" bullshit that Cathedral has dribbled fourth like an unceremonious bout of diarrhea over the past 20 or so years, it's absolutely mindblowing to me that Lee Dorrian still has what it takes to lay down some monumentally devastating doom such as he had with this album.

Bear in mind that one of these tracks is one of those Sunno)))-esque mindless drone fests that bore me to fucking insanity. Although not as agonizingly sparse, it may or may not begin to wear thin on your nerves depending on your endurance level. The other two, however, are prime cuts of some of the most bone crushingly crepitus doom I've had the pleasure to experience. Dorrian sounds deliciously vile here in a way that he hasn't since Cathedral's ungodly debut, 1991's 'Forest of Equilibrium'. The music here is similarly paced but the flesh of this particular behemoth is suitably more rotted and decayed.

When he's not noodling around with a million pseudo-intellectual drone/ambient/noise fart fests, Stephen O'Malley can actually come up with some thunderous doom for your ass as he has previously done in Thorr's Hammer and Burning Witch. In many ways, TOLRTD is sort of the logical continuation down the path blazed by the aforementioned duo. I know that some websites persist on labeling TOLRTD everything from 'drone' to 'stoner', but for me, this album has more in common with the death/doom genre if anything.

The drum patterns are kept interesting by Iron Monkey/Electric Wizard kit-master, Justin Greaves. One of the main problems with most doom bands is that the percussive dynamics are usually kept to a bare minimum, which is something that has never sat well with me. I've found that some of the more busier drummers out there have done little to nothing in hindering the overall power and dread atmosphere created by the guitars and other instruments. Evoken is a prime example of this. Despite this minimalism of the material found here, Greaves keeps the tempo interesting, which keeps some of the more droning material on this album from becoming a total endurance test.

I'm not sure what exactly the status of TOLRTD is or whether or not they are even a legitimate band beyond this particular album, but I would be thrilled beyond capacity if they were to usher fourth any more material as this is the kind of doom that I enjoy most, not to mention the fact that this is the best that Lee Dorrian has sounded since 1991.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Vio-Lence - Oppressing the Masses (1990)

Yet another decent thrash band from the 80's that managed to curiously employ the services of a castrated alley cat, incessantly whining into the mic whilst engaging in tough guy hand movements and the like.

I swear, the 80's were a weird fucking time. If I had 1/2 a cent for each band that exceeded the rest in terms of guitar work and drumming yet for some ungodly and unknown reason insisted upon shuffling out some  laughably horrendous vocalist out to the mic, I'd be swimming in a veritable sea of Twinkies and pineapple soda from here until the end of time.

I'll never forget the first time I heard the band's debut, 'Eternal Nightmare' sometime back in the late 80's. I remember thinking, "ok, the music's decent enough" and then the vocals began to emerge, and I couldn't help but think to myself that this was some sort of joke. I know that thrash has been enjoying a good deal of renewed interest as of late and I'm well aware that many of these folks fondly regard vocals such as these as being part of some sort of brilliant endeavor, well, did I mention that I'm also privy to the solid fact that the world is alarmingly populated with dumbfucks and dipsticks?

Oppressing the Masses is one of those unfortunate albums in the sense that, musically, the album fucking rocks. There's certainly no shortage of bad ass riffery or pattern arrangements to behold, but once those absurdly goofy vocals kick in, all else is tainted and instantly dumbed down as a result. This was one of the reasons why I could never truly get into Exodus' Bonded By Blood. Sure, over time I've actually been able to accept and even enjoy Paul Baloff's absolutely maniacal approach, but this guy here does not come across as threatening in the least bit and result is an annoying distraction that takes away from everything else.

In terms of riffage, I'd put this up against Metallica, Dark Angel and Overkill ANY day of the week. They may or may not come out on top but they're certainly capable of standing alongside any of those bands and holding their own. The production here by Alex Perialas is very similar, if not identical to that of Terry Date, giving the guitars that sheen that brought out the best in albums like 'Time Does Not Heal' and 'The Years of Decay'. Again, I can only wish that the band had employed the services of a more capable and menacing sounding vocalist instead of this goofball, but unfortunately they did not, so as a result, Vio-Lence is not a band that gets much play around these premises.

Diagonal - The Second Mechanism (2012)

Absolutely fucking phenomenal! This time around Diagonal delves even further into the progressive realm that they had unearthed on their 2008 self titled debut. The overall sound here is very organic without being overtly so. Each rhythmic corridor whilst wonderfully anfractuous, never loses sight of itself or its intent.

The album is devoid of a goodly sum of the vocals that made their appearance on the first album, which is fine by me. I'm actually glad that the band opted to venture down this path as I am more interested in what is going on musically and where each instrument is going to take me. I'm tempted to believe that having a great deal of vocals liberally peppered throughout would only hinder the band in the long run. Having said that, I did like the dustiness of the vocals on the first album and felt that the band did a stellar job, on all fronts,  transporting the listener 30 or 40 years back in time. This is a feat Diagonal has managed to pull off yet again with The Second Mechanism.

The great thing about many of these sort of modern progressive/neo-classic rock bands is that they have a whole history of great music to work from and that includes the ability to avoid stepping into certain piles of shit that many of their great predecessors had previously not seen before and all around them. Many of these bands, such as Elephant9, Fire! and of course Diagonal, are not fucking around and have instead gotten right down to the business of painting aural landscapes for the mind to explore sans the overindulgent tendencies of their musical forefathers. Diagonal have once again outdone themselves and my only fear is that we will have to wait another 4 years until their next phase of brilliance has revealed itself.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Begotten (1990)

Begotten is one of those movies that has been spoken of in some form or another for the past twenty years and with good reason. If David Lynch films like “Eraserhead” are hard to explain, then Begotten is damn near impossible. There’s an explanation offered on the video box, going on and on about how the movie is actually a veiled re-enactment of three biblical stories “creation, the Nativity and Jesus’ torture and death at Golgotha”. Whether or not that’s what you end seeing is up to the viewer.

Begotten is every arthouse film student’s wet dream. It’s a visual experience where the story is not only inconsequential but almost, not even there. What you see is a human-like thing bleeding and dying on a chair, a woman rises from behind, impregnates herself with the human/god-like thing’s semen, gives birth to a quivering adult-child thing that looks like it’s having an hour long seizure. These dwarf/druid things are all up in their business and things happen. While that is the gist of what is going on in terms of story, the visuals are much more visceral and … I hate to be corny but they are literally entrancing. (For me) watching this highly grainy, highly contrasted black and white movie was like being in  trance, where any and all commentary was completely unnecessary and moving my eyes from the screen was not an option or a thought.

This movie is not for everyone. It is truly an “either love it or hate it” experience. If you’re fine with movies that don’t need a plot but tell a story solely through it’s imagery, if you’re cool with silent movies (except for a low droning slightly staticky sound) then this might be the movie for you. If what I just described seems incredibly stupid and pretentious, stay far away.

Voivod - Phobos (1997)

Although I do not mind and actually rather like 'Angel Rat' and 'The Outer Limits', it's the two albums that succeed the aforementioned duo that really catch my interest.

I truly find it to be a crying shame that the E-Force era is largely panned and ignored as with the absence of vocalist, Snake, a large quantity of fans abandoned ship, and that's not counting those who turned their backs on the band after the divisive 'Angel Rat'. If anything, 'Negatron' and 'Phobos' are without a doubt, a return to the bands past aggression, albeit a bit tempered and controlled as opposed to the rustier sound and approach of the band's punk/thrash beginnings.

'Phobos' is undoubtedly the superior of the two Eric Forrest releases, though that's not to say that 'Negatron' is lacking in any way. I just find the darker, spacier grooves of the latter to be more appealing. Vocally, Eric was a perfect fit as he could effortlessly shift from Snake's earlier aggression to the rhythmic crooning of Voivod's space/thrash era. Of course that's not to say that he does not have an identity of his own, but it does make it a little less painful of a pill to swallow in terms of changing vocalists. It is also a testament of E-Force's diversity and mastery of the mic.

Musically, the band hadn't sounded this "spaced out" since 88's 'Dimension Hatross', as even 'Nothingface' was primarily a more stripped down version of the former. here, the spacey dimensions take on a darker hue, perhaps darker than the band has ever dared to conjure fourth, before or after, and it works brilliantly. In my opinion, this is the most experimental Voivod has ever dared to be throughout their entire career, all the while retaining every last bit of their integrity.

I have to say, although I absolutely love and adore both 'Dimension Hatross' and 'Nothingface', though it's difficult to say for sure, in all probablity this is my favorite Voivod album.

Hollywood Kills (2006)

More people need to learn that low-budget and independent does not have to mean low-quality. In particular, the makers of “Hollywood Kills” really should have paid attention in class on the day that lesson was taught.

“Hollywood Kills” follows four reasonably useless and not particularly likeable young adults as they go party and “audition” at the home of a once-famous director. He takes a liking to one of the girls so instead of letting her loose in his “studio of horrors” filled with big bad guys and semi-traps, he keeps her locked up in the control room and broadcasts his deep and personal conversations with her over a loudspeaker over the loudspeaker so her brother (one of the four schmucks) can listen in.

Considering how shitty this movie is in every respect, I’m assuming that the only reason it was greenlit was so it could hopefully cash in on some of the “torture porn” craze of the mid 2000s. But it fails even in that regard. There’s some rape, some blood, some gore, but the effects are truly awful, the acting would be forgettable if it weren’t so terrible, and everything about it is just really bad. The only barely decent scene is they eyeball needle torture, but even that ends up looking seriously hoaky.

SubRosa - No Help for the Mighty Ones (2011)

The majority of this album is absolutely fucking amazing! There are songs that I am helplessly compelled to listen to over and over and over again. Trust me, I'm not able to do that very often these days, even with the shit that I do enjoy. Unfortunately, there are a few songs that suffer from tremendously boring riffs, which make it all the more frustrating as I cannot just simply put this album on and let it ride straight through.

The guitar sound is definitely of the "stoner" variety, though probably the heaviest you'll find in that genre. The riffs themselves are more along the lines of mid-era Neurosis, although the band's insistence with revisiting the stoner vibe of the guitar sound itself emerges from time to time and that is where the problem lies. There is way too much potential here in other areas that I find the attempts at fitting in with the stoner crowd to be half-hearted and rather lame. I wish that they would focus on the more bizarre tendencies of songs such as 'Borrowed Time, Borrowed Eyes' or 'Beneath the Crown' rather than dumbing themselves down by timidly emulating the "tried and true" stoner formula. Believe me, there is NO fucking shortage in that genre and the potential that SubRosa has here is too precious and far too unique to be dwindled away in an attempt at being properly categorized.

Obviously the big lure here is the triple (!!) violin assault coupled with the vocals of Sarah Pendleton and Rebecca Vernon which all lend an ethereal yet completely bizarre and abstract quality to the music. I see a vast array of exciting possibilities for this band so long as they continue down their own path and ignore the mindless trappings along the way.

Napalm Death - Diatribes (1996)

This was the first notable chink in ND's armor. While many folks decried the experimentation and somewhat slower pace of 'Fear, Emptiness, Despair', I felt that that album was a great and logical step in the right direction for the band. Unfortunately, ND took and ran with some of the "softer" elements of that album and the end result was 1996's 'Diatribes'.

This was an easily identifiable attempt at commercializing their sound with the emphasis for accessibility glaringly transparent. Had these songs actually cracked the Billboard charts and made an appearance on national radio, television, etc, I would have been happy for the band, regardless of my preference for the band's older material. Unfortunately, this was far from the case and the album itself is just far too soft and poppy sounding (regardless of Barney's roaring croak) to be consistent with persistent spins on ye ol' turntable. 

If one thing can be said about ND's brazen attempt at "fitting in", it's that the band certainly proved that they had indeed possessed a knack for writing a catchy tune (although, one could argue that 'Harmony Corruption' had no shortage of snappy odes, albeit a bit more abrasive and maniacally paced than the material found here). I would say that, in terms of straightforwardness and accessibility, ND were closer to the mark than Carcass were on their final outing.

Ultimately, this album comes across as a brief hiccup in ND's career until the infinitely superior 'Inside the Torn Apart' came around the following year. Interestingly, ND would again delve into a period of lackluster songwriting and laughable attempts at sounding aggressive with 1998's 'Words From the Exit Wound'. One could surmise that 97's 'ITTA' should have been the album to succeed 'Fear, Emptiness, Despair', while 'Diatribes' and 'WFTEW' are a bit more properly aligned with one another. Whatever the case, while there have undoubtedly been far worse attempts at selling out, 'Diatribes' is an album that I certainly could have done without and seldom have the desire to revisit.

Movie Poster of the Week: Last House on the Left (1972)

Litmus - Slaughterbahn (2012)

Not quite sure how I feel about this one. Previous albums by Litmus have been extraordinary examples of the possibilities of modern space rock/prog, though Litmus, I think it's fair to say, falls more under the "rock" category than prog as there has never been anything tremendously challenging going on in regards to instrumentation. "Space" rock, however, is something that Litmus more than exceeds at, which is why I'm somewhat at a loss here as the band has largely stripped down the more cosmic elements of their sound in favor of a more straightforward approach, and while I won't say that it's bad, I do not find it to be terribly intriguing either. I suppose after three stellar exercises in intergalactic expertise, Litmus decided to leave the sci-fi insanity behind this time and I'm not too sure that they benefited from the decision to do so.

This is definitely not a bad album, by any means, as the band prove that they can pen a decent tune sans the gimmickry that they're essentially known for. Unfortunately for me, the studio trickery of their previous output is precisely why I bought a ticket for the ride in the first place and I'm wondering if I would've been better off just walking on by as the whole affair, ultimately comes across as a bit pedestrian.

Forbidden - Twisted into Form (1990)

If it weren't for the tidal wave of homosexuality that are the vocals, this would actually be one killer album. Unfortunately, during the 80's, many otherwise awesome bands were brought down a few notches due to the inclusion of some ultra-cheesy vocalist or another. Such is the case with Forbidden. The funny thing is that the vocalist looks like a behemoth viking that, after buffeting his enemies with his ham hock-like fists, proceeds to guzzle down the scrambled remnants within their skulls with a rather unsettling gusto, not unlike a cannibalistic tranny surrounded by a sea of dicks. Actually, the latter segment of that tirade sounds about right. A monstrous titan of a homosexual, screaming with delight at the thought of waking up amidst an ocean of swaying cocks. Why the rest of the band opted to go down this route is way the fuck beyond me as, like I mentioned earlier, the riffing and lead work is absolutely fucking righteous, not to mention the stellar drumming, courtesy of Paul (Slayer) Bostaph. Yet another thrash band from the 80's that falls snugly into the category entitled "could've, should've, but unfortunately did not".

Monday, November 12, 2012

Henry Lee Lucas: Portrait of a Serial Killer

So why are so many people intrigued by serial killers??? For many Americans, these modern-day ogres offer a perverse thrill. But is really the threat there?? "Some experts believe the number of serial killers is rising. "Going back to 1960, you had about 10,000 homicides a year in the U.S., and most of these were solved and very few of them represented multiple or serial killers," notes Ressler, now a forensic consultant in Spotsylvania, Virginia. "Today we're running 25,000 homicides a year, and a significant number of those homicides are going unsolved. We're seeing a great increase in stranger killing and in many of these cases, the victims are falling to serial and multiple killers." Still, the notoriety these killers enjoy is out of proportion to their numbers. The FBI estimates there may only be dozens of serial killers operating in the U.S. Yet serial murder remains a peculiarly American phenomenon: 75% of the 160 or so repeat killers captured or identified in the past 20 years were in the U.S."

In interviews for the film, McNaughton stated "We didn't try to lay in a very specific them, only that it's a crazy, dangerous world. These people, killers, are out there, and if it's your turn..." So the fear and effectiveness of this film is built upon are intrigue with these animalistic freaks and the chance that they in fact could be the "boy next door".

Let me conclude by saying, that this page is not presented in any way as a tribute to the foul deeds of Henry Lee Lucas. Rather it is provided as a source of information to help illustrate the underlying inspiration that Lucas has had on the film. Although a fictional representation of Henry's life, it does demonstrate some truths in it's examinations. There was an Ottis and Becky. Henry did in fact have a relationship with Becky which lead to her ultimate demise.

Henry Lee Lucas might be America’s most prolific serial killer. On the other hand, he might be the biggest liar since Baron von Munchhausen. After experiencing a self-described "religious conversion" in prison, he decided to bare his soul and confess to an astronomical number of murders. Later, however, he recanted most of his testimony. Among law enforcement officials, the exact number of his crimes remains a matter of debate. Still, even if Lucas’s final body counts falls far short of the five hundred victims he originally claimed, he nevertheless ranks as one if the most depraved serial killer in history.
Subjected to untold horrors by his insanely abusive mother, Lucas began indulging in sadistic depravity while still a child. By thirteen, he was engaging in sex with his older half-brother, who also introduced Henry to the joys of bestiality and animal torture. One of their favorite activities was slitting the throats of small animals, then sexually violating the corpses.

Early in his childhood, Lucas was compelled to dress as a girl by his mother. She would curl her little boy’s stringy blond hair into ringlets and sent him off to school in girl’s clothes.

One year later, he committed his first murder, strangling a seventeen year-old girl who resisted his efforts to rape her. In 1954, the eighteen year-old Lucas received a six-year prison sentence for burglary. Soon after his release in 1959, he got into a drunken argument with his seventy four-year-old mother and stabbed her to death. He also confessed to raping his corpses, though he later retracted that detail.

Receiving a forty-year sentence for second degree murder. Lucas ended up in the state psychiatric facility. In spite of his own protestations—"When they put me out on parole, I said I’m not ready to go. I told them all, the warden, the psychologist, everyone that I was going to kill"---he was release after only ten years. Eighteen months later he was back in prison for molesting two teenage girls.

Lucas was discharged from the state pen in 1975. Not long afterward, he met Ottis Toole, a vicious psychopath who became Lucas’s partner in one of the most appalling killing spree in the annals of American crime. For the next seven years, this deranged duo roamed the country, murdering and mutilating an untold number of victims. Like Lucas, the profoundly depraved Toole also had a taste for necrophilia. He also indulged in occasional cannibalism, an atrocity that Lucas tended to shun, since he found human flesh too gamy. For much of their odyssey, they  were accompanied by Toole’s preadolescent niece, Frieda "Becky" Powell, who became Lucas’s lover and common-law wife. She would later become his ultimate victim, when at age fifteen she was found dismembered, stuffed in pillowcases, and strewn over a field.

Lucas was picked up on a weapon charge in 1983. A few days later, after apparently being stricken by an uncharacteristic attack of bad conscious, he summoned his jailer, "I done some pretty bad things," he muttered. With that he began spilling his guts admitting to a staggering number of murders. Some of these have been confirmed, others have proven false (like the Virginia schoolteacher he alledged killing who was later found to still be alive or his claimed to have committed murders in Spain and Japan even though he never left the country or being a hitman for the Satanic cult, the "Hand of Death),many remain open cases. Lucas even confessed to have carried the poison to Guyana as a favor to his good friend Jim Jones.  Many investigators still believe that Lucas was responsible for just a couple of murders and the real criminals were the officers who fed him information on unresolved cases and coerced confessions. Serial killer expert Robert Ressler believes Henry might be responsible for as little as five killings. The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle. At a 1985 trial, he was convicted of ten homocides---more than enough to get him the death sentence.

Ottis got off his death sentence as he was diagnosed a paranoid schizophrenic. His death sentence was commuted to six consecutive life sentences. In prison Ottis confessed and later recanted killing 6-year-old Adam Walsh, whose 1981 disappearance outside a Hollywood, Florida, mall set off a nationwide manhunt and launched the TV career of his father, John Walsh, as the creator and host of the Fox television series "America's Most Wanted." In the autumn of 1996 Ottis died in prison of liver failure.

Whatever the actual total, the horrific nature of Lucas’s life of crime was summed up in one statement: "Killing someone is is just like walking outdoors. If I wanted a victim, I’d just go and get one."

After confessing to over 300 hits, Hank recanted it all only to confess again when he became born-again.

On March 31, 1998, Texas State District Judge John Carter set June 30 as the execution date for Henry Lee. Although his many confessions, he was sentenced to death for the 1979 murder of a female hitchhiker known as "Orange Socks" for the only item of clothing left on her body. During many of his detractions Lucas claimed that he was working as a roofer in Florida when the hitchhiker was killed. No execution date had been set for Lucas until now. He was granted a stay in September 1995 so his claims of false confessions could be investigated. The stay was lifted a year later.

On June 27, 1998 Governor George W. Bush spared Henry's life because of overwhelming evidence proving that Henry was not in Texas when "Orange Socks" was murdered. Although Lucas confessed to killing her, work records and a cashed paycheck indicated he was in Florida at the time of the murder. Bush issued the reprieve on the recommendation of the state parole board. "I can only thank them for believing the truth and having guts enough for standing up for what's right," Lucas said from death row.

"Henry Lee Lucas is unquestionably guilty of other despicable crimes which he has been sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison," said Bush, in Brownsville for a conference of U.S.-Mexico border state governors. "However, I believe there is enough doubt about this particular crime that the state of Texas should not impose its ultimate penalty by executing him."

Henry Lee Lucas
Classification: Serial Killer & Serial Confessor
Born: August 23, 1936, Blacksburg, Virginia
Arrested: June 15, 1983
Died: Natural causes, Huntsville Prison, March 11, 2001
No. Victims: 3-600
Active: 1947-1983
Victim Profile: Random women, men, young girls, hitchhikers
Fetishes: Necrophilia, bestiality, necrophilic bestiality, child molestation, arson.
Location: Michigan, Texas, and possibly 20 more states.
Ottis Toole
Classification: Serial Killer - Cannibal
Born: Jacksonville, Florida
Arrested: 1983
Died: Liver failure, September 15, 1996
No. Victims: 2-65
Active: ?-1983
Victim Profile: Random women, men, hitchhikers, young boys
Fetishes: Cannibalism, arson, cross-dressing.
Location: Texas, Florida, and possibly many more states.

The Tag Team from Hell: the Sadist King and the Generalissimo of Pain. The numbers speak for themselves, or maybe not. Lucas and Toole could either be the deadliest team of killers in the Archives, or the greatest hoaxers in crime history. No one can be quite sure how many people they killed even if they confessed and recanted up to 600 murders. Once labelled the "most infamous man on death row", Lucas, at the time of his death, was remembered by prison authorities as "the best" working the prison sewing machines. With his death the night of March 12, 2001, Henry Lee Lucas took to his grave either a far-reaching confession hoax, or a lethal cross-country rampage of random serial killing. 

As a kid, Henry was the poster child of the dysfunctional "Future Serial Killer Club". Though had eight brothers and sisters whom were farmed out to institutions, relatives, and foster homes, he managed to stay at home where he was mistreated and abused. In true hillbilly fashion, Henry was uneducated, malnourished, beaten, and forced to watch his uncaring, bootlegging, prostitute mom -- Viola Lucas -- turn tricks. His alcoholic father, called "No Legs" because of a chance encounter with a freight train, killed himself after repeatedly being humiliated by his abusive wife. Henry was often forced to go to school barefoot and wearing a dress and curlers. Not surprisingly, he dropped out by fifth grade and remained semi-literate for the rest of his life.

As a teenager he enjoyed sex with his half-brother and dead animals. The future serial confessor said he first killed and raped a girl at the age of 15. When he was 17, Henry sliced open his eye while playing with a knife with his brother. His left his gashed orb unattended for days until it eventually withered and had to be removed by a doctor and replaced with prosthetic glass. Once he was beat so severely with a piece of wood that he lay in a semi-conscious state for three days before one of Violet's boyfriend decided to take him to a local hospital. All this explaining why Lucas spent most of his youth in and out of correctional institutes until January 11, 1960, when, in a drunken binge, Henry stuck a knife in his mother's back and proceeded to rape her dead corpse. Later, like on many other occasions, he recanted his act of incestuous necrophilia.

He got 40 years for matricide and was sent to Jackson State Penitentiary in southern Michigan. A social worker there met Lucas and observed "a very inadequate individual with feelings of insecurity and inferiority." After two attempted suicides, Hank was transferred to a mental facility for the criminally insane, where he was diagnosed as a suicidal psychopath, sadist, and sexual deviant.

Inexplicably he was out after serving only 10. After his release things didn't get any better. He had an unsuccessful marriage which ended when his wife discovered he was having sex with her two small girls. Then he lived with his sister Wanda, leaving when she accused him of sexually abusing her young daughter.

In 1978, after a chance meeting in a Jacksonville soup kitchen, he joined up with a part-time transvestite and deeply psychotic retard, Ottis Toole, to carry out numerous murderous escapades. Ottis was erotically stimulated by arson and had a taste for human flesh. Henry, however, was not a cannibal because, he said, he disliked the taste of Ottis' barbecue sauce. He was more of a sadist and a necrophile, preferring sex with mutilated bodies and dead animals: "I enjoy dead sex more than I do live sex."
The consummate killer couple, they enjoyed picking up hitchhikers to satisfy their lust for blood. Sometimes, when they didn't want to go through the hassle of killing and disposing of their prey, they would just run over the occasional hitchhiker and continue on their merry way. These lethal lovebirds parted ways after Ottis' mildly retarded 12-year-old niece, Becky Powell, shacked up with Henry. One day the unfortunate lassie lost her temper and struck Henry in the face. Not Mr. Nice Guy, Lucas grabbed a carving knife and stabbed her in the heart killing her instantly. After raping her post-mortem, he dismembered her, stuffed her in pillowcases and left her remains strewn over a field.

Lucas was arrested in June 15, 1983, for a minor weapons charge. Within days he confessed to the one-year-old murder of 82-year-old Kate Rich, a Montague County woman who had taken Becky Powell and him in when they moved to Texas. Then he confessed to murdering and dismembering little Becky and led detectives to the field where he dumped her body. During the Powell trial he confessed to having sex with her after her death: "I had sex, intercourse with her. It's one of those things that I guess got to be part of my life, having sexual intercourse with the dead."

After he was sentenced to life in prison he congratulated the prosecutor for a job well done and continued confessing to the tune of 600 murders throughout the United States. Lucas' highly publicized confession spree prompted detectives from 40 states to visit him to talk about an estimated 3,000 homicides which in turn led to one of the greatest mockeries of the U.S. legal system with cops clearing their books of unsolved murders and Lucas parroting whatever information he was fed. "I've killed by strangulation. I've killed by hit-and-runs, by shootings, by robberies, by hangings. Every type of crime, I've done it. I've got more female population hating my guts, more than any other place in the earth."

According to his confession Lucas claimed he and Toole would pick up most of his victims along the interstates: "Just about everyone I pick up, I kill 'em. That's the way it always turn out." Toole, who at the time was incarcerated in Florida on an arson murder, confirmed many of the claims, adding his own details. According to Ottis they picked many more hitchhikers when he wore a dress. Not surprisingly the confession became morbidly bizarre with episodes of necrophilia, dismemberment, and cannibalism on account of Toole's taste for human flesh.

Later, when he recanted his confessions, he said he wanted to make police "look stupid", which after all is said and done, he did. "That's just a bunch of garbage I put together," Lucas said of the confessions in a 1998 interview with The Associated Press. "I'm not some kind of saint, but I do believe I'll go to heaven. And I do believe those who did the killings will be punished by God." He blamed the confessions on a steady diet of tranquilizers, steaks, hamburgers and milkshakes fed to him by investigators, along with crime scene clues he said he parroted back to detectives. Unfortunately for the victims and their relatives, many of those murder cases were never reopened.

Lucas toured the country as a star killer looking for evidence of his handiwork for avid police departments. Curiously, not a bit of evidence was uncovered by the excursions. But as Henry continued rambling on about murders another police department invited him to their jurisdiction hoping to pin whatever they could the garrulous confessor. In 1985, Dallas Times-Herald journalist, Hugh Aynesworth, claimed their reign of terror was a hoax and that overzealous detectives fed the would-be killers many details of their crimes. Henry and Ottis confessed to a huge amount of murders in 26 states. Henry even claimed to have carried the poison to Guyana as a favor to his good friend Jim Jones.

Many investigators still believe that Lucas was responsible for between three and twelve killings and the real criminals were the officers who fed him information on unsolved cases and coerced confessions. Serial killer expert Robert Ressler believes Henry might be responsible for as little as five killings. The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle.

To many investigators' surprise one of Henry's earliest alleged victims, a Virginia schoolteacher, was found alive and kicking after he was charged with her murder. Not one to hold back his most outrageous boasts, he claimed to have committed murders in Spain and Japan even though there's no evidence suggesting he ever left the United States.

Some of the crimes, he said, were committed under orders from the Satanic cult, the Hand of Death, who recruited them to help out with the human sacrifices. "They take a live girl and put her on the table and split her open and take all of her organs out," he told police, adding that sometimes they would take the entrails and "put them in a pot and cooked 'em." The Hand of Death has also been mentioned by Charles Manson and New York's infamous Son of Sam as the true masterminds behind their crimes. It is unclear if the group actually exist or its mythical reality has become transcendental.

Meanwhile back in Florida, Ottis was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic and his death sentence was commuted to six consecutive life terms for an arson murder. Ottis too got the confession bug and claimed to have killed 6-year-old Adam Walsh, whose 1981 disappearance outside a Hollywood, Florida, mall set off a nationwide manhunt and launched the TV career of his father, John Walsh, as the creator and host of the Fox television series "America's Most Wanted."

On September 15, 1996, Ottis died in a prison hospital of liver failure. Walsh, who repeatedly criticized the police handling of his son's case, questioned why investigators did not try to interview Toole on his deathbed or try for another confession. Speaking from prison after Ottis' death, Lucas said Toole killed Adam and later showed him the remains of the boy in a shallow grave. "I got sick about it. I said let's get the hell out of here."

On March 31, 1998, Texas State District Judge John Carter set June 30 as the execution date for Henry Lee for the 1979 murder of an unidentified female hitchhiker known by law enforcement as "Orange Socks". The victim was so named because the socks were all she was wearing when her body was found in a ditch off Interstate 35 near Georgetown, north of Austin.

On June 27, 1998, the then Governor (now president) George W. Bush spared Henry's life because of 
overwhelming evidence proving that the drifter was not in Texas when "Orange Socks" was murdered. Although Lucas confessed four times to killing her, work records and a cashed paycheck indicated he was working as a roofer in Florida at the time of the murder. Bush -- who as governor executed 152 inmates -- issued the only reprieve in his career on the recommendation of the state parole board. "I can only thank them for believing the truth and having guts enough for standing up for what's right," Lucas said from death row. After the commutation, Lucas predicted that there was an "80 percent chance" he would walk free someday.

"Henry Lee Lucas is unquestionably guilty of other despicable crimes which he has been sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison," said Bush, in Brownsville for a conference of U.S.-Mexico border state governors. "However, I believe there is enough doubt about this particular crime that the state of Texas should not impose its ultimate penalty by executing him."

Besides the life term for the Orange Socks killing, Lucas was serving five other life sentences and 210 years in prison for three other slayings. The district attorney who prosecuted the Orange Socks case, Ken Anderson, said Tuesday he believes Lucas killed anywhere from three to a dozen people. "I don't think he knew exactly," Anderson said "He had no reliability. He had such a chaotic life. It's difficult to imagine you can rely on anything he said, but the fact remains he was a serial killer even though we're unable to pinpoint the exact number."

In 1999, Henry made it in the news again when he told reporters he had become fascinated by drifter Angel Maturino Resendiz, the Railroad Killer who has been connected to at least eight slayings in Texas, Kentucky and Illinois. "If this was 1983, I'd claim these murders, too," Lucas told the Houston Chronicle. He told the paper he admired Resendiz and thought he was playing a "brilliant" cat and mouse game with the FBI agents trying to track him.

In Death Row in Huntsville Henry became born-again and spent the last 18 years of his life making guard uniforms. According to prison personnel, he was model prisoner and an ace on the sewing machines. Henry died the night of March 12, 2001 in Huntsville Prison's infirmary. He was pronounced dead of natural causes at 11:16 p.m. Lucas was a chain smoker and had a history of heart disease. He had recently complained of breathing difficulties and spent two nights in the prison hospital. Officials said he will be buried in the inmate cemetery if no family members claim his body. He was 64 at the time of his death.

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